Dr. Earl R. Smith II

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There is a lot of writing being done on something called the 'Upward Path' or the 'Path'.

The recent TV series Stargate SG1 popularized the idea that it was possible to 'ascend' by finding and keeping to this 'path'. Most of this - including the TV series - is popularized and remanufactured bits of Buddhism. The problem is that it is misleading in several ways - that people who accept that 'seeking the upward path as the road to enlightenment' are almost certainly going to be seriously disappointed and waste a lot of living in what could only be called a 'kamikaze raid on a vacant lot'.

The basic problem with this form of pseudo-Buddhism is that it falls into a trap that Buddha himself warned against - the trap of grasping. A fundamental principal of Buddhism is that many of our problems are self-created through a tendency to hold on to artificial realities - like synthetic versions of our self or visions of the world as we would like it to be. This holding on is called grasping. According to Buddhism, you can't begin to move towards enlightenment by seeking enlightenment. That, in itself, is a form of grasping - grasping the ideal of enlightenment.

Many students and most 'casual' dabblers in Buddhism have a great deal of trouble getting their minds around this simple idea. For some it seems to take away all the purpose of 'practicing Buddhism'. I have had some ask me "Well, if I don't have a goal, why practice Buddhism?"

The presumption here is that the individual needs to be in control of their life - needs to direct it towards something that is presumed to have value. In modern terms "If you don't know where you're going how will you know when you get there?" The problem with this formulation is that it exteriorizes a journey which is essentially inward - the entire premise underlying the perspective assumes that the process is an outward journey - from here to there.

But the real journey in Buddhism is from here to here - from this present moment to this present moment. The goal is to be truly here - present in this moment - authentically and completely - without reservation or misunderstanding about either what or who is.

In a truer sense, the journey is down and inward rather than outward and upward. But in an even truer sense, the journey of a thousand years and a thousand miles is simply from here to here - no movement - no direction - no upward sloping path - only enlightenment that comes when the mind is finally quieted - the ripples calmed - perversions, misinterpretations and misdirections cast away.

Enlightenment is not a place to go to - it is a way of being. Not a single step in any direction is required to achieve it. Wherever you are it is there with you waiting to be discovered. If you travel half-way around the world seeking it it will still be right there with you.

© Dr. Earl R. Smith II

I look back on the first three months of my work with Dr. Smith with wonder. My journal reflects a journey of self-discovery so vast that I hardly recognize the person who wrote the first entries. It's been a year now and I am happier now than I have ever been.

PJ, Mentoring Client

"It's the most amazing experience I have ever had. I needed to find a new path. A friend recommended Dr. Smith. What was most amazing was the wisdom and perception that he brought. New vistas have opened up and, as a result, a new chapter in my life. There's no way that I could put a value on what he has contributed to my life."

Mentoring Client, CEO and Serial Entrepreneur

"Chief - that's how Dr.Smith was introduced to me and, based on our work together, I have come to understand why - helped me focus on the possibilities that I had been missing in my life. He guided through developing a new vision for my life. My life is richer because of working with him."

Mentoring Client

"Earl is a wise mentor with lots of experience. He has a great way of explaining things and getting you to look at them from another perspective. Dr. Smith is a tough mentor, but, if you can learn just some of what he knows, your life will change forever."

Mentoring Client, Deloitte

“Dr. Smith is a very different kind of mentor. If you’re looking for a warm and fuzzy adviser, this is the wrong guy for you. But if you are dedicated to change and want to be challenged by a very experienced mentor Earl may be just what you are looking for.”

CEO of Croix Connect and Host of ABC Radio’s ‘Taking Care of Business’

“Dr. Smith's mentorship has been of great value and inspiration to my personal and professional development. I felt the need to take a new direction. He helped me sort out the possibilities and showed me ones that I never considered. Working with him has been a truly life-changing experience.”

Partner, IT & Telecom, Defense Solutions